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Eve
Ruff Ryders' First Lady
Ruff Ryders/Interscope

Sole
Skin Deep
DreamWorks

This may piss off many brothas, but it has to be said: Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown are straight-up embarrassments to rap. They're not progressive. They're just eye candy.

Punk style with a hood attitude is what Eve's all about.
Punk style with a hood attitude is what Eve's all about.
Got cleavage? Sole raps pretty good, too.
Got cleavage? Sole raps pretty good, too.

For every 20 half-nekkid studio sistas in rap videos, there is one who keeps her clothes on and still maintains her femininity. Philadelphia's Eve proves girl power still lives in rap with her 18-track debut, Ruff Ryders' First Lady.

The sole female in DMX's crew Ruff Ryders, Eve is a take-no-bullshit gal, who can spew hardcore rants and raves with the best of her male brethren. Her flow is heightened by her unflinching, bold confidence. She also has no love for ladies who like playing the parasite, as evidenced in the "fake-ass bitches" section of the track "Let's Talk About."

She raps: "Why you think these niggas pussy-hungry? / 'Cuz you acting trifling / Laying up taking his money." Also, this "blond-haired bandit" isn't afraid to be faithful to her man ("Gotta Man") or even rob him ("We On That S***!"). While that last example may be Eve's over-the-top way of showing she's down for her testosterone-filled clique, the sista can be dead serious. On "Love Is Blind," she dreams up her own vengeance for those who commit domestic violence, while "Heaven Only Knows" has her rapping about her past as a down-and-out stripper. Many of the Ryders, including DMX, Drag-On and The LOX, show up not only to verbally spar with Eve but also to give her props.

And while Eve is rap without the filler, Sole (pronounced "so-LAY") is rap with all the fixings. Though she's just as quick as Kim or Brown to take her clothes off for a publicity shot or album cover, she's got the skills to back up her uncovered back.

On Skin Deep, Sole, whom you may remember as the secret weapon on J.T. Money's rowdy hit "Who Dat," lets go with her own raw rap stylings. On the track "Spell My Name Right," she dubs herself "the illest Cherokee to ever scalp a hoe" as she rips into lines like, "I ain't no freak hoe / I ain't no duck hoe / I ain't no took-me-out-to-eat-so-we-gonna-fuck hoe." Sole may not like being treated as sex object, but she, like Eve, isn't afraid to be feminine.

What's interesting about Sole is how clever and occasionally funny she is rapping about female empowerment. It's not as flagrant as the sordid methods of Kim and Brown. Sole is more enticing and tempting. On "Young N***a," popping percussion rolls on as Sole plays the role of Mrs. Robinson to an eager paramour. And the album's best moments are when she addresses relationships, as when she duets with Goodie Mob's Big Gipp on "We've Been Trying Too Long."

In all, Eve and Sole are two bright spots in rap. Here are two ladies who possess potent, intimidating skills on the mike and still look mighty fine doing it.

 
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